When you go to court — or when you start pre-trial negotiations, more precisely — it would be ideal to know what the other side is thinking. That is rarely possible, but you might have the opportunity to predict their strategies and get the best possible outcome.
The law is a system. However, it is a system run by people. It helps to understand both the rules and the personal motivations that guide legal procedure if you want to see clearly to the end of the process.
Who is talking?
The first question you would want to ask is simple: Who are the people on the other side of the table? In a personal injury case, you are probably negotiating with insurance adjusters and their representatives. In a criminal case, you would probably be dealing with police officers and state’s attorneys.
This can be confusing in some situations. In a car accident, for example, you might think you had to deal with another driver. Few people recognize at first that the insurance companies are really their main adversaries.
What does everyone want?
After you know who is in the conversation, your next step is understanding what everyone wants. Everyone’s idea of an ideal outcome for your case is different:
- Insurance company adjusters might want to reduce your claim total and improve their organizations’ bottom lines.
- Police officers might want convictions to show results from their efforts.
- Public attorneys might want to move your case through the system as quickly as possible.
- You probably want maximum compensation for your injuries, along with maximum protection of your rights and interests.
As you might expect, these goals often do not align completely. Although other parties should see reason eventually, their first offers are likely to be most advantageous for them — not for you.